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A. Booker Prize winners and Short Listers, Salon top ten and other literary award winners:
Mordecai Richler, "Solomon Gursky was Here"
Nominated for the Booker in 1990. Red it January 1-7. This could be the booker nominee I liked least. About all I can say for it was that I finished it, which only means that it didn't offend me but barely managed to hold my interest enough to keep the pages turning.

Rachel Seifert, "The Dark Room"
Nominated for the Booker in 2001. Read it February 15-22. An excellently written book, very stark and compelling, telling the tale of ordinary Germans facing the horrible truth about the evils of Naziism both during and after the fact.

J. G. Ballard, "Empire of the Sun"
Short listed for the Booker in 1984. Read it June 30 - July 11. Fictionalized account of the author's experiences in the internment camps in occupied China during World War II. Almost a young adult book. Not bad but not that good either.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, "Heat and Dust"
Booker winner of 1975. Read it August 13-21. Interesting look at India in the 1920s and 1970s. A weak ending kind of ruined the book.

Carol Birch, "Jamrach's Menagerie"
Nominated for the Booker in 2011. From the library on audio disk. Listened to it September 8-15. A powerfully told story of a poor young man from London England in the latter half of the nineteenth century. A strong stomach is needed to get through the part of the book where he is attempting to survive being adrift in the ocean. Overall a very good read.

A.D. Miller, "Snowdrops"
Nominated for the Booker in 2011. From the library. Read it September 15-18. A very quick read, reminiscent of the crime noir books of the 1950s and earlier.

Stephen Kelman, "Pidgeon English"
Nominated for the Booker in 2011. From the library. Read it September 19-22. Another quick read, but this one was much better than "Snowdrops." This book got better and better right up until the last page, where I completely disagree with the author's decision of how to end the book.

Patrick deWitt, "The Sisters Brothers"
Nominated for the Booker in 2011. From the library. Read it September 23-26. A thoroughly satisfying western in the style of "True Grit." Well written with a good amount of humor, the author brings his characters to life. Probably the best of the Booker nominees I've read so far.

Julian Barnes, "The Sense of an Ending"
Nominated for the Booker in 2001. Read it October 11-15. Definitely the most literary of the nominees that I've read. Although short, it was a very interesting rumination on the effects one's actions in youth has on a person forty years down the timeline. I enjoyed this book very much.

J.L. Carr, "A Month in the Country"
Nominated for the Booker in 1980. Read it November 4-5. A beautiful little book that shimmers with beautiful imagery and has some thoughtful things to say about love and art.
B. Wodehouse:
P.G. Wodehouse, "Cocktail Time"
The master's only novel from 1958 and 1959. An Uncle Fred saga. Read it January 11-15. A most satisfying romp. The book itself was a fragile paperback that fell apart as I read it. I'll need to replace this one as I would sure like to re-read it at some point.

P.G. Wodehouse, "How Right You are, Jeeves"
Published in England as "Jeeves in the Offing," this is a book in which Jeeves is conspicuous by his absence, and Bertie Wooster attempts to get himself out the usual assortment of troubles he manages to immerse himself in. Read it March 6-18. A complete delight and unexpected return to form for the master, who had been less than hilarious in the late 1950s.

P.G. Wodehouse, "Plays"
A stack of photocopies of eight plays, some by him, some his translations of others, and one an adaptation of one of novels written by someone else. Read them May 22 - June 29. Mostly wonderful. The one real clinker was a show in which Wodehouse only wrote the song lyrics. The two he translated from the Hungarian Molnar were especially delightful, as was the book to Cole Porter's Anything Goes.

P.G. Wodehouse, "The Ice in the Bedroom"
First of two novels published by Wodehouse in 1961, the year he turned 80 years old. Read it July 21-27. A delightful book, with several laugh out loud moments. I detect no diminishing of talents as the master moves into his penultimate decade.

Jacque Deval, "The Cardboard Lover"
A Play adapted by Valerie Wyngate and rewritten by P.G. Wodehouse. Another photocopied play. Read it November 6-8. Wodehousian humor was abundant. An enjoyable farce.

P.G. Wodewouse, "Service With a Smile"
Wodehouse's second 1961 novel. Read it November 27th thru December 14th. Wodehouse combines an Uncle Fred novel with a Blandings tale to produce a work of complete delight.
C. Other Fiction:
Adam Ross, "Mr. Peanut"
Recommended by Cliff. From the library. Read it January 18-21. A well crafted albeit creepy post modernist murder mystery.

Carson McCullers, "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe"
Third in the Library of America collection of her five novels. Read it January 23-24. As with the previous novel this was short but packed with tense, dramatic writing. I did not anticipate the way everything worked out. A truly deep Southern atmosphere truly comes to life here. Highly recommended

Carson McCullers, "The Member of the Wedding"
Fourth in the Library of America collection of her five novels. Read it January 24-27. Much more similar to her first novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" than her next two books. Extremely well written and insightful. Highly recommended

Carson McCullers, "Clock Without Hands"
Fifth and last novel in the Library of America collection of her novels. Read it March 21-27. Another remarkable novel from a remarkable writer. Highly recommended

Jurg Laederach, "69 Ways to Play the Blues"
A Christmas present from Rob. Read it February 2-4. Short vignettes that range from fantastic to preposterous. Lively writing carried me through it.

Audrey Niffenegger, "The Night Bookmobile"
A Graphic novel recommended by Madaline. Read it February 14th. It was ok in a creepy kind of way. At least she mentions "Gravity's Rainbow." Not for kids!

Beryl Bainbridge, "According to Queenie"
From the library on audio cassette. Listened to it April 18-25. Great fun and moving. Nobody depicts youngish girls like Beryl Bainbridge.

W Somerset Maughm, "Of Human Bondage"
Read it April 1st - May 2nd. A beautifully written novel that takes one into a world where passion triumphs over logic and people have to live out their lives with the consequences. Utterly believable and fascinating. A long novel that could have held my interest forever. Highly recommended

Yann Martel, "The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios"
A novella and early short stories from the author of "Life of Pi." A birthday present from Kathy. Read it July 17-20. Surprisingly good collection of early writing from one of my favorite Booker winners.

Thomas Pynchon, "Inherent Vice"
My first re-read of Pynchon's most recent novel. Read it August 10-26. I've always found Pynchon to be much better in the re-read. It"s true I did like it better the second time through but this is still the weakest Pynchon novel by far.

Jonathan Safran Foer, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
Recommended by Angela. Read it September 28th - October 8th. Very moving. I liked his first novel better, but this one is also very good. A bright future for JSF!

Helen DeWitt, "Lightning Rods"
By the author of "The Last Samurai." A loaner from Tom. Read it October 16-22. Quite different from her first book. Not exactly bad, but in many ways a painful read. Taken strictly as a satire on business I guess it is ok but in that case it reads like it should have been from the 1950s.

Kathryn Stockett,"The Help"
Digital download from the library. Listened to it December 8-15. A wonderful book. Great characters and a rivetting plot. Lots of historical civil rights references embedded into the fictional story of the African Americans who suffered through living in Jackson Mississippi in the early 1960s. Highly recommended

Charles Dickens, "The Cricket on the Hearth"
Read it December 20-23. Hrd to believe that this toss-off was one of Dicken's most popular stories during his lifetime.
D. Non Fiction:
Neil Leifer, "Ballet in the Dirt: The Golden Age of Baseball"
A Christmas gift from Kathy. Read it January 8-11. Wonderful photos from a Sports Illustrated photographer. Covers Baseball from the 50s to the 70s.

John Hersey, "Hiroshima"
On audiotape purchased at a library sale. Covers the activities of six survivors of the first atomic blast. Listened to it July 27-29. Excellent writing and engrossing story that is much less morbid than I thought it would be. It is very relevant in these days when the ward just never seem to end.

Peter Keating, "Dingers! A Short History of the Long Ball"
A Christmas present from Jeanne. Started reading it January 30th - February 2nd. A fun book with a lot of interesting stories and stats.

Leslie Gourse, "Sophisticated Ladies: The Great Women of Jazz"
A Christmas present from Kathy. Read it February 5-7. Included a couple of singers I wasn't familiar with.

Richard Havers and Richard Evans, "The Golden Age of The Blues"
A Christmas present from Kathy. Read it February 7-12. Excellent coffee table book with several pages concentrating on one of twenty blues people. I learned a few new things and revisited treasured blues memories.

Cousin Brucie Morrow, "Doo Wop: The Music, The Times, The Era"
A huge coffee table Christmas present from Kathy. Read it February 14-26. Wonderful photos, many of groups I had never seen pictures of before. But the writing was pretty bad, and there was no index. A few pictures did not even have identification. Sure wish there had been more careful editing!

Todd Hignite, "In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists"
A Christmas present from Kathy. Read it March 5-14. A most enjoyable coffee table book with insights into the medium and some illustrations of golden age cartoons and comics I had never heard of, and I thought I was fairly knowledgeable on the subject!

Gerard W. Kelly, "Short-Cut Math"
A Christmas present from Kathy. About 150 tricks to help one do math in one's head. Read it March 18-31. Very interesting. Would require much rereading to master all the tricks.

Gary McCord, "Golf for Dummies"
A Christmas present from Thomas. Read it April 1-24. Some valuable information, some interesting reading and some fun stuff. I still can't golf to save my life!

Brent Manley, "The Everything Bridge Book"
Read it April 14-27. Some good beginner info, but the advanced stuff was way over my head.

James Ursini, "Movie Icons: Humphrey Bogart"A birthday present from Kathy. Read it all May 8th. Some great stills and some interesting info on a true screen legend.

Jacob Hoye, "100 Greatest Albums"
A birthday present from Kathy. Read it May 8-13. Some interesting stuff. One quarter of the albums were news to me. I must be getting old!

Julia Ruth Stevens and Bill Gilbert, "Babe Ruth"
A birthday present from Kathy. Includes 10 removable reproductions of memorabilia. Read it May 14-22. Lots of great photos. Baseball was so easy for Ruth!

Chris Kraus and Sylvere Lotringer, "Hatred of Capitalism"
A Christmas present from Rob. An anthology of works that appeared in the journal Semiotext(e). Read it May 22nd thru June 9th. Mostly out of date and unreadable left wing tracts. A few good articles.

Bill Idelson, "The Story of Vic & Sade"
Scripts of the old radio show enhanced by reminiscences of one of the key performers in the serial. Read it June 30 - July 17. A great book full of the humor that made Paul Rhymer an American classic. And nice reminiscences by the one who played Rush on the show.

Barbara Strauch, "The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain"
A birthday present from Rob. Read it July 28th to August 2nd. While it read like a very long AARP magazine article, it did have some interesting and valuable information in it. To sum up, eat blueberries! Also moderately exercise, eat a lot less and get skinny. Learn to do something that's hard like playing piano.

Mezz Mezzrow, "Really the Blues"
A birthday present from Kathy. A book written by one of the people who fostered Jazz in the 1920s through the 1950s. Pulls no punches about the rough life endured by Jazz musicians in those early days. Read it August 5-9. A very entertaining book with some interesting insights concerning the early years of the Jazz era and the tough lives led by the musicians.

Tina Fey, "Bossypants"
Recommended by Angela. A digital download from the library. Listened to it September 26-30. A total delight. Fey is as brilliant as she is funny.

Michael Slater, "Charles Dickens"
A present from Rob. Read it October 22-30. An in depth look at an amazing man. Dickens was so prolific and stayed so busy that he had time for many other activites besides writing in 34 year career. I look forward to plunging into some of his books next year, the bicentenial of his birth.

Charles Panati. "Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things"
A present from Rob (I think). Read it November 9-18. Entertaining and enlightning

Carl Hiaasen, "The Downhill Lie"
Nonfiction from the very funny Florida writer. Read it November 18-26. While it did provide some laugh out loud moments, the book was more painfully true than funny.
E. Mysteries:
Donald Westlake, "The Busy Body"
Westlake's follow-up to "The Fugitive Pigeon" from 1966. Read it January 16-17. A delightful fast moving romp that had a well crafted mystery at the core of it that I couldn't solve. The solution was totally satisfying, which is crucial in mysteries.

Tom Rob Smith, "Child 44"
A mystery set in Russia. Long listed for the Booker. On purchased audio disc. Listened to February 12-17. A really awful book with one of the dumbest resolutions to a mystery that I have read in a long time. I was bitterly disappointed with this book.

Donald Westlake, "God Save the Mark"
Westlake's 1967 comic crime creation. Read it February 27th - March 3rd. A very satisfactory mystery romp. Plenty of humor to go along with a couple of murders.

Raymond Chandler,"Pulp Stories"
Thirteen stories written for pulps before his first novel was published. First of four books in the first volume of the collected Chandler published by the Library of America. Read it May 22nd - June 23rd. The stories got better and better as the book went on. It was almost like watching someone learn to write.

Raymond Chandler, "The Big Sleep"
Second of four books in the first volume of the collected Chandler published by the Library of America. Read it August 3-4. A delightful romp with all manner of depravity surfacing in 1930s Los Angeles. He sure loved similes. My favorite: "As false as an usherette's eyelashes."

Michael Chabon, "The Yiddish Policemen's Union"
Recommended by Angela. Read it September 2-14. A fun read with a very nice and satisfying solution to the mystery. While I wasn't crazy about Chabon's writing style, I loved the characters and the plot.

Ellery Queen, "The Tragedy of Y"
One of the four mysteries published in 1932 by the two cousins who composed the writing machine of Ellery Queen. Read it December 15-18. Another unsolvable incredibly complicated mystery. But fun to read nonetheless.

Donald Westlake, "Somebody Owes Me Money"
Read it December 24-26. A satisfying romp.
total books read in 2011: 59
total from the library: 9
total listened to: 6






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